I played in the tournament last weekend, it happened about 80 km from Toronto, in Guelph, at the local university. It was well organized and the traffic was good, less than an hour drive.
I played in the U2000 section, definitely could do much better than I did, but I hope I learned some important lessons. On my play definitely reflected the fact that I was waking up early both nights – at 4:30am, 5:30am with a little sleep before leaving.
Game 1 – I got Black, we played Giuoco Piano, he choose a 7. Nc3 variation I never played OTB before, maybe blitz a few times. Good that I remembered the main line, though not as deep as I thought. After 8… Bxc3 the main line is 9. d5 and Black should play Bf6, giving back one of the knights.
I played 11… f5, thinking that after Bf5 I can be overwhelmed with defending the knight on d4, but after 12. Re1 Re8 13. Nd2 Qf6 White can’t take on e4 – 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Bxe4 Qh5 and Black gets two pieces for the rook.
After 16… Nd6 it was equal despite me being pawn up, but then he played Bg5. After I took the bishop he resigned.
Game 2 – I got White with the girl that got a bye in the first round. Typical Rossolimo, but my attack on the kingside did not succeed, I didn’t play f4 not wanting to give her e5 square.
So, I switched to queenside. After 21. c4 I could win c5 pawn having a good, simple position without queens. I won it anyway, but had to spend time so my queen won’t get into trouble. 37. Qb3 was better than 37. Rb5, penetrating then into her backyard. Computer plays 39. f4 too, but I consider this move a mistake and beginning of the problems for White.
I had to play 42. cxb5, maybe I didn’t play it because I didn’t like c4, but it was completely won for White. I don’t remember why I didn’t take on c5 on move 47, probably because of Qa4, but it was winning.
49. Qf3 was a big mistake, it gave up all the advantage, 49. Qb6 Qa4 50. Qf5 was the line to play. I already started to feel fatigue and my time also was shrinking. Then I made a game losing mistake playing 56. Kg1. After 56… Qc3 I realized that I am going to lose the game. After queens exchange the pawn endgame was lost.
Game 3 – I got Black with an aged guy, he played Queen’s Pawn. The first and only possibility advantage came for me on move 17, when I could play d4. Then I didn’t understand the meaning of his 23. Bd3, played a5 and missed a skewer. I managed to win his “b” pawn and thought that I could try to hold with my two bishops.
He tried to attack my king, but couldn’t find a win and went for a 3-fold repetition.
Game 4 – it was Sunday and I came with high expectations. I got White with a young guy and our Ruy Lopez quickly went off the book. He started a play in the center with 11… d5 and could get some advantage after 14… e4, but suddenly he played 14… Nxe3. I noticed almost right away that I have 15. Na4 and played it. Then instead of 19. Nd4 the best was Ng5.
After 19… Ng4 he managed to exchange queens and weaken my pawn structure on the kingside. I missed 28. Rxf7, still had a big advantage. But I didn’t think how I will use it, didn’t have any plan and was just moving the pieces. There a mistake in my score, so I can’t connect the moves in it before move 45 with the rest. But what happened is that I eventually I had a pawn on b2, he on b3, his rook was on the 2nd horizontal and his king joined his pieces attacking my queenside. I got a very passive position, was in a serious time trouble, then lost pawns on the kingside and then blundered a piece and resigned.
I played this game on Monday last week. I guessed my opponent and color right and decided to play French defense. I looked up a few moves just in case if he plays Nc3 and then the Alekhine-Chatard attack. This is exactly what happened. I also remembered that my king should escape to the queenside.
I had to give the pawn back, but was holding up. Then I played 25… c5, the move was OK, but I didn’t expect his reply b3. I considered 26. b3 cxd4 27. bxc4 dxc3 and didn’t like 28. cxd5. In reality it was equal after that. So I played 26… Nxa3 thinking that then my knight can go to b5 and if he exchanges knights on b5 and takes on f7, I will have a strong attack after Rg1+.
Yes, it was a winning line for me, but he played 28. Nxf7 and I couldn’t take on c3 because of the fork on d6.
Aftre 28… Qxf7 he got a big advantage and then it all went down.
I got White in this second round and my opponent was the one of the two I most expected. I had +1, =1, -3 score with him. I looked at our last game played half a year ago, so was prepared to play against Sicilian d6. We got Moscow variation, this time he took on d7 with the knight.
It was a positional struggle where he had a minimal advantage. The crucial moment of the game came when he played 37… Bf8. Of course I could play Nc2, but I didn’t like Rb2. Also I saw that the bishop exchange will weaken his kingside. So, knowing that I will lose b4 pawn I played Re5. After Rxb4 I could play f5 right away, but I decided to solidify my position playing Qe3. I have to say that he played faster than me, but after f5 he started to slow down. I had about 10-12 minutes at that time, he had about 30. I didn’t expect gxf5, so got a really good feeling after that. Computer shootouts show that it was already losing, though he tried to prove me in a postmortem that he could hold it.
His 43… Rb3 was a blunder, he said he didn’t see Qe8+. I had 7 minutes at that moments, he had 20. He resigned after it. The best move was 43. Rb6 or Kf8, still it is a very difficult position to defend.
I unexpectedly got White in that round, my opponent was the same boy with whom I played a month ago and won in Rossolimo variation. We played the same variation and got a similar position. I knew that I have to exchange dark-colored bishops early. I succeeded with that and started to organize a kingside attack. I don’t think g5 was a good move. I intentionally took on g4 with a pawn on move 24 in order to open “h” vertical.
I considered of course taking on h6 in different moments, still missed 28. Nxh6. As I remember the idea of intermediate Qf5+ and then taking on h6 with a rook flashed in my head at some point and then I lost, forgot it. So, 28. Nxh6 and if 28… Rxh6, then 29. Qf5+ Kg7 30. Rxh6 Kxh6 31. Rh1+ Kg7 32. Rh7+ winning the queen.
I realized that I can’t breakthrough on the kingside and started to prepare a break in the center. Computer criticizes me for not playing 34. d4, I think I thought that he can play 34… Rd8. It actually doesn’t work because of 35. dxe5 Qxd1 36. Ne7 Kf7 37. Qxf6 with a win for White.
After some maneuvering I finally played d4. His 47… Qd8 was a mistake, I calculated 48. d5 cxd5 exd5 and he can’t take Rxd5 because of 50. Ne7+. There was also a stronger than Ne7+ move – 50. Qe4 with a very strong attack. Anyway I played 50. Qe4, it was strong, but the strongest was 50. dxe6!! Rxd1 51. Qxd1 52. Qe4 Qd8 53. Ne7+ Kg7 54. Qg6+ Kh8 55. Qxf6+ Rg7 winning the queen.
After his 50… Ng7 I could win on the spot playing Nxh6. I saw it, but didn’t calculate deep enough and played Ne7+ winning an exchange. It was similar to the previous game, but there I exchanged the queens almost right away, here I had a feeling that I can win with a straight attack. On move 60 I avoided queens exchange, though on move 63 offered it myself, seeing that I have a clear win in the R vs. N endgame.
On move 66 it was a mate in 8 after Qd5+, which I didn’t see. I can only say that starting from move 50 I played on increment, having about 5 minutes left. His 71…Qxb3 was a crucial mistake, after 74. Qxf6 it was a mate in 7 starting from 75. Re7+. He resigned.